It’s a risk: ‘Daghabaaz Dil’ cast, crew talk releasing solo local film this Eidul Fitr

KARACHI: There are certain things, without which, our Eid seems rather incomplete; sheer khurma, eidi, a decked-out dress, and a Mehwish Hayat film. After a year-long gap, Pakistan’s arguably biggest cinema star is back on screen with yet another Eid offering – Wajahat Rauf’s family entertainer, Daghabaaz Dil.

The film will be the only new local release on Eid, unlike previous years when producers struggled to pull in the audience thanks to an extremely busy release roster. The Chhalawa filmmaker reveals he wrapped his recent film in a short span of three months. “I think it was meant to be like this,” Wajahat, who was approached by the producers in December with the offer of the film, tells The Express Tribune.

The Hadsa director says when he started making the film, they were informed there were three, four films set for Eid release. “There was one with Farhan Saeed, I think,” he comments. “The intention wasn’t that we would be only ones making the film; the intention was we’ll make the best one.”

The idea, Wajahat remarks, was to encourage other filmmakers to take risks as well. “Had we also given up and not made Daghabaaz Dil, then we wouldn’t even have one local film hitting the theatres this year,” he asserts.

To this, Shazia Wajahat, producer of Daghaabaz Dil, chimes in and says, “If it were up to Wajahat, he would single-handedly want to revive the Pakistani film industry.” Shazia reveals while she had forced Wajahat to take up some dramas (his last being the tide-turning Guru with Ali Rehman Khan), her husband’s heart would always be set on films.

“I don’t get the contentment I look for when I do dramas instead of films,” he laughs. “Films matter to people. Every film with major actors is discussed and that discussion brings out our country onto the world map as well, it helps with the softer image of our country.”

Recalling how he was invited to Harvard University in 2016, Wajahat says one of the attendees of the event divulged how his perception of Pakistan had changed after watching his then-newly released film, Karachi Se Lahore. “The person said, you know I have very limited knowledge about Pakistan, I didn’t really google it as well. I never would’ve guessed that people in Pakistan are so much fun. He added how he was surprised to see women in jeans, the dances, the premise of the film. It changed the way he saw Pakistanis. That’s the power of cinema.”

For Mehwish, who’s brought Pakistan on the map with her portrayal as Aisha in Ms. Marvel, international recognition is imperative. “It’s so necessary,” she tells me. “We need to make more quality work. I understand that the budgeting might be a constraint, but the content shall always prevail. Even in this film, we didn’t have a free flow of funds, but I think we’ve made something beautiful with what we had. I believe it’s not about the budget but the content, and how it’s acted in and directed. If we make more films that are picked up by international film festivals, then we get global recognition, and the makers get that satisfaction as well. It’s a win-win situation.”

Ali, too, shared that the need for local content to be recognised internationally is of the utmost importance. “It’s bigger than all of us,” the Guru star says. “Films like ours, the masala films, are not going to reach international festivals. But small-budgeted films, with independent filmmakers, do have that chance where they can make a buzz worldwide.”

What to expect from Daghabaaz Dil

The cast and crew of the film also spilled the beans on what to expect from their upcoming family drama. “I think we need films like Daghabaaz Dil to release on Eid,” Shazia shares. “The current affairs of our country are already so gloomy, I think people would love to come out and watch a light-hearted comedy film.”

Mehwish concurs with her producer. “It’s a no-brainer, really,” the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz recipient shares. “The film has songs, dances, a big-fat Punjabi wedding. It’s a formula that has worked well for us and the audience on Eid likes to come out with their families and watch these films. We’ve added an additional element of supernatural bodies and I think that could intrigue the audience.”

The producer-director duo had previously worked the lead cast; and that cumulated into one of the factors as to why stars such as Ali and Mehwish agreed to work on the project on such short notice. “We were very lucky, I believe,” Wajahat says. “Mehwish was somehow available on the dates we were planning on shooting and Ali also moved things around to make it work. We had worked with Momin in Raqs-e-Bismil, and we knew he was a great fit for the role we had in mind.”

Working with Shazia and Wajahat was an added bonus for Momin to readily agree to the job. “They make you feel so comfortable on sets, that I think everyone should work with them!” the actor who rose to fame with a viral 2019 video tells me. Talking about his role in the film, Momin adds, “I fell in love with the script.” Adding how he’s a fan of ‘diversity’, the social media sensation comments, “My character in the film has elements of comedy, of romance, of mischief.”

Ali adds how he transitioned from Wajahat’s last protagonist, Guru, to Faris in Daghabaaz Dil. “I don’t think I’ve completely shed Guru, truth be told,” the Parde Mein Rehne Do star says. “Having said that, I don’t really dwell in the past as well. It’s all part of the job, you have to move on.”

Mehwish, who essays strong-headed Zoya in the film, shares how she manages to don her roles with sheer perfection. The actor, who’s played eerily similar characters in the past, namely Punjab Nahi Jaungi, London Nahi Jaungi and Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, reveals she pays close attention to detail and does her homework before she steps onto sets.

“I think the idea is to make sure that there’s no repetition,” Mehwish says. “Hence, I like to experiment with my roles. For Zoya, I tried to talk really fast; she’s a chatterbox! Unfiltered, and unabashed, doesn’t care much about how people perceive her. Zoya is anything but like me.”

While the nerves set in for the rest of the cast, Momin is seemingly unbothered about the numbers. “I don’t care much about the outcome,” he concludes. “I enjoy the process and being part of the project; the rest is up to the audience.”

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